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Is The Chinese Government Targeting Our Power Grid?

American Grid Hacked [1]The power grid is vastly over-taxed and vulnerable to collapse, not just from high volume usage or solar flares – but from Chinese hackers as well. The recent hacking attacks have been blamed on Chinese hackers, and by extension the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army. The United States is in debt to China for a startling amount of money. If the US can’t pony up the cash, could the hackers take down the power grid in retaliation?

Such a scenario may sound too bizarre to be true; but as the saying goes – truth is stranger than fiction. American infrastructure was noted as some of the “most troubling” targets of Chinese hackers by an ABC report. Twentysomething hackers hijack websites to flex their skills and perhaps interject a bit of humor. Criminals hijack (or attempt to hijack) companies and governmental entities to steal identities or funds.

The Chinese hackers are reportedly targeting the American water supply, pipelines and the power grid. What purpose other the wreaking havoc, would hackers have for attempting to cripple our infrastructure? Analyst Richard Clarke noted during the ABC report [2] that the only reason someone would want to get into the control system for the power grid would be to cause “damage, destruction, and disruption.”

Commerce would come to a screeching halt if the power grid collapsed. If you owe someone a debt, as we most undoubtedly do with China, taking away the ability to generate funds denies common sense. But, punishing an entity that appears to never be able to make good on a debt is a tried and true loan shark tactic. Chinese officials likely discuss our struggling economy as much as we do ourselves. Do not think for one second that our fears about the growing deficit are not a concern for China as well.

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Civil unrest would likely occur in as little to three days in major metropolitan areas. Tractor-trailers would not be able to deliver food to grocery stores if gas station pumps no longer worked. The American military, the largest and most well-trained fighting force in the world, would also be hampered drastically by a downed power grid. Operating radars, reviewing satellite feeds, and the ability to launch rockets would no longer be possible if Chinese hackers took down the power grid.

The Obama administration confirmed the severity of the Chinese hacking attempts during a recent press conference, but did not release particulars about the attacks. White House press secretary Jay Carney noted that the Obama administration has repeatedly “raised concerns” about the hacking attempts with senior Chinese officials. Hmmm … I for one do not find a stern tongue lashing very reassuring.

Perhaps there is more going on behind the scenes to keep us safe from a hacking attempt on the power grid. Exactly what leverage we have with China remains to be seen. Unfortunately, we need them far more than they need us.

The Chinese government has profusely denied the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army has ever had anything to do with hacking in the United States. When a team of journalist tried to film the building where the hacking was reportedly traced to, Chinese soldiers confiscated the footage.

If China is engaging in economic espionage against the United States, it could be too late to protect the power grid. Overhauling the antiquated and over-taxed power grid is long overdue. Correcting the problem simply cannot occur more quickly than the hackers can tweak codes and alter control panels.

Do you think Chinese hackers are attempting to take down the power grid?